Conflict In Purge-atory

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Categories Family, Mommy Issues

PURGE [purj] ~ verb.
To rid, clear, or free

HOARD [hawrd, hohrd] ~ verb.
To accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place

I used to donate two items to charity for every one article of clothing I purchased. My rule was, if it hasn’t been worn in a year, it’s out the door. I like clean, balanced lines and earth tones. I don’t like piles that become permanent fixtures. I envy my younger days when everything I owned could fit into my Toyota Corolla. Order calms me.

weight of
Life With Four Month Old Twins.

Now, I am not so good at getting things to their proper place before the end of the evening. My living room is riddled with primary-colored plastic objects that play music that will inevitably run through my head at 2:00 a.m.


The mail now gets checked once a week only to end up a pile on the dining room table slash changing table slash high heel storage area slash office space. Unopened. I still feel calm, but only because I altered the boundaries of my definition of Order.

Still, a purger by nature, my purging and order instincts bubble to the surface of my consciousness with relative frequency. For example, on my list of things to do is to take pictures and price a 4-door sedan, two bicycles, a stereo receiver, and a coffee table to put on Craigslist. When I mention the “C” word, my partner, Jennifer, starts to get a little antsy because she doesn’t know what all I’ll get rid of while she’s not looking.

On the kid front, I am preparing for the semi-annual Mother’s of Multiples Club Buy/Sell (Garage Sale) Day. For this, I am separating clothes by brand, then subdividing by ascribed sex (boy/girl/neutral), further breaking down by type (onesies/long-sleeve/rompers/etc) and then deciding which are worthy of scarce hangers and which to package in multiples. Then sizing, labeling, and pricing.


Can I borrow your shirt-sleeve to wipe the drool from my chin?

Oh, I cannot describe the joy I get out of getting rid of things. And yeah, maybe I was a little over-enthused when showing a friend the guest bedroom, strewn with categories of children’s clothing, calling my name out to be tri-folded and packaged.

So you can imagine my stupefaction when my friend said “but aren’t you going to keep any of their clothes for them as a keepsake? What about the outfits they wore when Jennifer adopted them? Those are meaningful.”

Oh. Ummmmmm…

Well, uh….

“BUT WHY?”, I say.

I suppose there are entire populations of parents who tenderly hang their baby(s) Coming Home Outfits in a shadowbox frame. Or bronze the shoes. Or pickle their removed tonsils for display in the family china cabinet.

My parents didn’t keep my Christening outfit and if they had and had given it to me, I honestly don’t know what I would have done with it. A picture of my being held by my Godparents over the Baptismal waters is good enough for me.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with keepsaking. I’m just saying I have never been one to be emotionally attached to clothing – or most tangible items for that matter – so it is my natural inclination to get rid of stuff not being used. I remember when we found out at least one of the twins was going to be a girl. I called my sister to see if she’d give me some of the clothes that her daughter had outgrown, and after several conversations, she finally told me she wasn’t ready to part with my niece’s clothes yet. It didn’t make any sense to me, but I completely respected her feelings.

As for memory preservation plans in my household, and in my minimalist frame of mind, I had planned to upload pictures over the course of each major age category, type in some milestones, and make photobooks for the twins on Blurb. And then Copy/Paste/Print more copies of the same for the grandparents.

But maybe that’s not sufficient? Maybe I need to get in touch with my inner-Hoarder? And to think, this is just the beginning. What about when the kids get into school and start bringing artwork home? What to do with the first tooth that falls out? Where does it begin? And where does it end?

If you are a Hoarder, what do you plan to do with that/those item(s) you’ll keep for you or your child(ren) for posterity? Are you uncluttery, or would you be one of those eccentric people they write about in the newspapers, the ones that have every issue of National Geographic since 1948 and an attic full of Folgers coffee cans – just in case you’ll need them?

If you are a Purger, how do you decide what’s a keeper without becoming a Hoarder? Where do you draw the line without compromising the memories?

If you are currently pregnant, what are your keepsaking goals, and where in the spectrum do you fall?

Who knew that sorting through 0-3 month clothing for a damn garage sale could snowball into this weighty quandary?!

Rachel’s personal blog can be found at RaJenCreation.

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16 thoughts on “Conflict In Purge-atory”

  1. Pickled tonsils!??! LOVE that! Truthfully, I do have a few (VERY few, as in they fit in an small under bed tupperware) sentimental items of clothing from when the kids were extra teeny, but with time continuing to slip on into the future, fewer and fewer garments find their way to that “keepsake clothing” box…

    More and more often I find myself purging the formerly held as something “newer” is of greater sentiment. Volumnious artwork retention is hard with twins…deaccessioning pieces daily.

    We abide by your “one in, two out” methodology…were it not for the more out than in, we’d be living like those guys in the movie “Unstrung Heroes….”

    Looking forward to hearing how others deal with the deluge…

    Great post!

  2. I have a feeling I am going to love every entry you write. You speak my language woman!

    I am a purger. I hate clutter. If it is not used, it needs to leave our home.

    But… I have to think of the kids one day. I would love to have just one crazy 70s outfit from my childhood to put on my kids. Just one! Here’s my plan.

    Clothing – one favorite outfit per boy per size, stored in one tub in the attic. Jon and I decide together.

    Artwork – My boys started doing crafts at 6 months at day care! We only keep what will fit on display in our office. One row per child (with the Ikea hanger thing).

    Photos – I am ruthless about deleting photos. I only keep those I want to keep forever. And I print everything I want to keep.

    Mementos – only those that can fit in the baby book. Clippings from first hair cut? Yes. Ankle bands from hospital? Yes. Teeth? Gross (to me).

    I bind my blog into a book every year (Pregnancy, First Year with Twins, Second Year with Twins). What I really want to treasure are the memories.

    If my house was burning down, after grabbing the kids, I would grab the disks with the soft copies of the pictures and blog books. That’s it.

  3. I had an issue early on with grandparents writing a message inside each book that they gave my twins as a gift. So, now I have a bunch of books that have been deemed sentimental from the beginning! To top that off, my son is a puker (major reflux issues)…….So, now we have “keepsakes” with pages stuck together from puke! :-)

    But…..I must admit that I do keep a few items for sentimental reasons. Mostly, I take a TON of pictures. As of today (my twins are 12 months), I have taken 8,600 pictures! That could be a little (LOT) obsessive, but hoarding digital photos takes up much less room!

  4. What a well-written post! I find your purging inspirational because I myself am a total hoarder. I can’t even help myself. I moved to a remote island, but still managed to take everything with me that wasn’t strapped down.

    My mother was a purger extraordinare, and since I’m the opposite, maybe my twin girls have a shot at being normal :)

  5. i find myself in the middle, neither hoarder nor purger to any real extent. with the boys, i have been good at getting rid of the majority of clothing as they pass through each stage. i take the bags to a local resale shop, get what credit they will give and drop the rejected bits off to the good will. equipment goes out the door quickly one out of use. comes in too regularly thanks to friends with toys to donate.

    but the special things to me were the tiny outfits from their preemie days, the first outfit they wore that were labeled with a real size, etc. and there was some cute clothing that saw heavy rotation and remind me immediately of a time they did this or that. so i kept them and i am going to sew them into a quilt for me to take out and hold or for them to fight over as they please.

    photos are getting to be a problem. i love the photos, love our camera, hate how much it uses up on our laptop. so, deleting will be in order soon and then an external hard drive and printing.

    the thing i am finding is my blog is becoming a place i ‘collect’ my memories. i have glanced back from time to time and read the early entires…those are pretty priceless in having captured our time together so far.

  6. Love the post! I, too, am a purger. I sell most of my girls clothes on ebay (and buy their’s also) and then sell toys and large items (strollers, bouncy seats, etc) at a local pre-school’s consignment sale. My girls have started saying to me, “Mommy, I still like this. Please don’t sell it to the babies.” Do you think I have a problem?

  7. I’m so impressed that you can be that organized for the twin sale when your babies are four months old!! I think I was lucky to shower at that point.

    Even though my babies are 16 months, I can’t get rid of my newborn clothing yet. I’m just not ready. The toys, carseats, stroller etc….those have all been passed on to twin moms. I keep a lot of stuff—photos (that’s what an external hard drive is for), photo albums, first haircut clipping—they all get kept. Anyway, someday I will pass on my baby clothing, but at this point I’m not ready. Happily, we bought a house three years ago and have a basement and attic. Fantastic!

  8. I am a purging mother of two sets of twins: 2 years and 1 year. I keep four under-the-bed rubbermaid boxes in the guest room, and I have committed to filling only one tub per child: coming home from the hospital outfit, baby book, etc. I pass along everything else to someone in need because we have received such great kindness so far and these are mostly things.

  9. God bless twin sales! I’m a purger and looking forward to mine coming up soon too. Keeping sentimental things is tempting, but I’ve got two thoughts: first what would I grab from the burning house as mentioned above, and second, if it were gone would I remember and miss it? The answer is almost always no, and so whatever it is goes.

    Oh the joy when I sold our infant carseats, bases and double snap n go this week on Craigslist!

    But my big problem is what to keep. Are the twins my last babies? We’re very luck and they are wonderful, but is my child-bearing time over just like that?

    Tough to weigh purging and planning.

  10. Now that I know I am done having babies, I can gleefully get rid of everything they outgrow, every toy, every outfit. The only outfits I’m keeping are the TINY coming home from hospital outfit, and the christening clothes. All else must go!
    But for mommies who are not sure whether they will have more babies, I recommend keeping EVERYTHING.

  11. I’m a hoarder, but I WANT to get rid of stuff. I just rarely get around to the organizing it entails. I sold a bunch of my girls’ matching preemie and 0-3 month stuff on E-bay over a year ago, but they’re in 2Ts right now, and there’s a bunch I should part with.

    Freecycle has been great. People ask for things they need, and I suddenly remember that I have what they’re looking for. Two friends have kindly decided to get pregnant with girls after having had only boys, so I can give them each half my stuff. Joy!

  12. I started that comment meaning to say this:

    I’m keeping one preemie outfit each so that they can see how small 3 pounds really was. I’m keeping their first Christmas dresses and shoes. That’s it for physical objects.

    My blog and photos are my real keepsakes.

  13. purge! purge! my twins are 21 months now and here are a few things i hoarded that i am actually glad i did:
    *tiny matching outfits of theirs that are now worn by my former cabbage patch kids and that they consider their babies
    *a couple of old bottles/bibs which are now used for/by said babies
    *old halloween stuff like cat ears and bead necklaces that have proven to buy me 15 minutes of peace and fun

    i will keep a few of their outfits from the past. only because my mom kept some of mine and it has been fun putting them on my daughter…

    God love the multiples sales…i get to get rid of stuff. i get to organize. and i get to use a tagging gun. a tagging gun!

  14. i wish i was a purger…instead i am a pack rat and i keep everything! although, since the 3 peaches have come along i am getting a lot better about getting rid of things. my problem is that everything holds a memory!

  15. This is a subject that has been on my mind a lot lately. I lean toward the purge side–moving 2x in one year (while pregnant with twins) will do that to you! And we are living with my parents right now–who are hoarders to the extreme. Let’s just say I’ve decided to take the “asking for forgiveness is easier than getting permission” policy when it comes to throwing stuff away/organizing stuff. She may not have noticed something for 20 years, but I ask if she needs it suddenly it’s the prize jewel of the garage! This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that my husband and I are still trying to figure out how to fit 4 dressers, 1 queen bed, 2 cribs, 1 toddler bed, 1 full size bed, a changing table, & a recliner into 2 bedrooms (recliner & full bed belong to my parents, but there’s no where else for them to go). There would be a 3rd bedroom, but it’s my dad’s 2nd junk (oops! I meant super important collectables) room. :) So, you can see I’m a little irked that my parents have so much stuff they need 5 bedrooms plus a huge game room to house their hobbies. But then again, it’s their house! Hopefully we’ll get our own place soon and I can go back to my happy purging. Fun blog!

  16. I’m a purger, big time! Sometimes, though, in my haste, I’ll throw out something that I’ll later find myself looking for and then I kick myself.

    I find that my family has a lot less clutter now that my kids are out of the baby stage. I was so happy to be rid of all those swings, bouncers and that invaluable (at the time) double Snap n Go!

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